Some of the positives are that you don’t have to own a lot of area to house a show goat, feed costs are not as great as showing a larger animal plus a young person in the first grade can show a goat in Georgia. In addition, purchase prices of quality show caliber animals are rising, but you can find quality animals at more economical prices if you really look around.
If you have been looking for a 4-H livestock exhibitor program to get involved in, showing meat goats may be a project area you may want to do more investigation. Our office can help out so give us a call.
Since the Bowman girls and my nephew have started showing meat goats, we have learned a lot about care and health issues of these animals. Plus, we have kept many of the show does and started a small meat goat herd. If you decide to get into the goat production business, my first suggestion is to do all you can to learn about herd health and management.
I will be sharing information from a UGA publication on meat goats revised by Dr. Will Getz, Fort Valley State University Animal Scientist and Dr. Ronnie Silcox, UGA Extension Animal Scientist.
One thing to keep in mind is that due to our mild temperatures and high annual rainfall in the Southeast, internal parasites in goats can be a major issue in goat herds. When you keep goats in more crowded areas and you are not set up to rotate pastures, parasite issues can be even more of a problem.
In Georgia, you can have problems from roundworms, stomach worms and coccidia for the most part with internal parasites. If you suspect you have internal parasite issues in your goat herd, the best thing to do is start with fecal sample analysis by your veterinarian to determine the type of parasites causing the problem and the parasite load in the animal. Your vet can help set up a treatment plan for your herd. You may have to follow up with future fecal examines to see how the product worked and also to monitor parasite resistance to that product over time.
When we started keeping goats, I did all I could to research goat health. Reading research based articles from universities and also finding a good resource book to keep on the shelf have been helpful. When I had trouble with a buck a few years back, I diagnosed the problem before my vet from research.
You need to know the warning signs of internal parasite issues. Visual signs are rough hair coats, bottle jaw, animals that appear weak and have weight loss, diarrhea and anemia. Treat internal parasite issues as a major life threatening issue with your goat.
If you are trying to raise goats, knowing about goat reproduction is going to be important. Female goats can reach an age where they can be bred at five to nine months of age, but it is suggested to not breed them till they are about one year old. You want them to be at about 60 percent of their mature weight before breeding. Goats are seasonal breeders and will normally come in heat every 20-21 days starting in July until January for the most part. Some does may cycle in the spring months of March and April.
According to Getz and Silcox, you may find some more tropical breeds of goats that will cycle year round. The addition of a buck to the herd can cause some does to come into estrus. You will need to manage for when you want your goats to be born. For example, if you plan on raising show goats for 4-H’ers to show, you will probably want your does to kid from December to say March. Shows start in June and run till the state show in October so obviously the older kids can be more show ready at the early summer shows while those spring babies may not hit their stride till the state show.
One thing good is that goats are shown by weight so they normally are shown against goats their own size and weight. This helps if you are trying to match up the size of the youth to the goat. It may be hard for a 1st grader to show a 110 lb. wether. The gestation for a doe is on the average of 150 days. Again, hands on experience with goats and research on the what to do when the goat goes into labor are management steps to have a high percentage of live kid crop. For more information contact Gordon County Extension or email firstname.lastname@example.org.